Coronavirus facts

Last update: 26 May 2020 12:23pm

What are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause illness in humans and others cause illness in animals, such as bats, camels, and civets. Human coronaviruses generally cause mild illness, such as the common cold.

Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve to infect and spread among humans, causing severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which emerged in 2002, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) which emerged in 2012.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a new strain of coronavirus that is causing disease in humans and spreading from person-to-person. The name of the disease is COVID-19.

What we know about COVID-19?

The current COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly. We are still learning about how this new virus spreads and the disease it causes. We know:

  • the virus causes respiratory disease that can spread from person to person
  • most people experience mild flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath
  • some people experience severe illness and, sadly, a small proportion die
  • older people and people with underlying medical conditions seem to be more at risk of severe illness
  • there is no treatment for COVID-19, but medical care can treat most of the symptoms – antibiotics do not work on viruses
  • a vaccine is currently not available.

How does it spread?

The virus most likely spreads through:

  • close contact with an infectious person
  • contact with droplets from an infected person’s uncovered cough or sneeze (if you are within 1.5 metres or two large steps of an infected person)
  • touching objects or surfaces (like doorknobs, sink taps and tables) that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild illness to pneumonia. Some people will recover easily, and others may get very sick very quickly.

People with coronavirus may experience:

  • fever
  • symptoms such as coughing, a sore throat and fatigue
  • shortness of breath

People with severe illness may have difficulty breathing, which is a sign of pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention.

It can take up to 14 days for symptoms to show after a person has been infected.

For more information go to Testing for COVID-19.

Who is most at risk?

The following people are at higher risk of serious illness:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 50 years and older, with one or more chronic medical conditions
  • people 65 years and older, with one or more chronic medical conditions
  • people 70 years and older
  • people with a weakened immune system.

Chronic medical conditions include diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, cancer and kidney failure.

To minimise your risk, it is important to follow advice about preventing the spread, cleaning and physical distancing.

What is the treatment for COVID-19?

Around the world, no medication has been found to safely and effectively treat COVID-19. Antibiotics do not work on viruses.

In Australia, no drugs have been approved for treating COVID-19.

There is a huge amount of global effort going in to finding a safe treatment as quickly as possible.

Some medicines are being investigated through clinical trials, to see how well they work and if they are safe. There are 90 countries, including Australia, working together with World Health Organization to find an effective treatment for COVID-19.

While there is no proven treatment for COVID-19, medical care can treat most of the symptoms.

Many people who get COVID-19 have relatively mild symptoms. Most recover over a week or two at home without treatment.

Why is it taking so long to make a vaccine?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine.

Existing vaccines do not protect against the virus that causes COVID-19.

The World Health Organization is coordinating global effort to create a vaccine against COVID-19. Researchers are working as hard as they can on this.

It takes time to develop a vaccine from scratch. First it needs to be created, then researchers need to check it is safe to use. If it is safe, it needs to be manufactured and distributed on a large scale.

While we wait for a vaccine to be readily available, it’s important we all follow the rules to slow the spread of COVID-19. Stay home as much as possible, wash your hands well and often, and always cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.

Why not test people without symptoms?

Testing people for COVID-19 is important to stop the spread of the disease in the community. Testing identifies people who have the disease and quarantining reduces the risk of those people mixing with other people and passing it on.

Tasmania’s approach to testing people for COVID-19 is similar to other States and Territories and is based on information from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. The Committee is made up of Chief Health Officers from all Australian States and Territories and is the main national expert committee for advice about COVID-19 in Australia.

The focus of testing in Australia is to test people who have cold or flu like symptoms (however mild) – rather than testing people who don’t have any symptoms of illness.

The main reason for this is because people who have cold or flu like symptoms are more likely to have COVID-19 than people without symptoms. People with symptoms are also more likely to pass the illness on to other people than those who don’t have any symptoms – meaning that it is more important to identify those who have the illness and are showing symptoms because they are more likely to make others sick.

However there are times when it is important to test some people who don’t have symptoms. This includes workers in places where there are people who could be badly affected if they caught COVID-19. This includes health care workers and aged care workers. Sometimes people who don’t have symptoms are tested if there is a high chance they might develop COVID-19, such as some close contacts of confirmed cases and where there is an outbreak.

Apart from these type of situations however, the advice from Australia’s Chief Health Officers at this stage in Australia, with the current low level of transmission in the community, that it is more effective to continue to focus on testing of people with symptoms.

Last update: 14 Aug 2020 8:26am

As at 6pm, 13 August 2020

Laboratory testsNumber
Laboratory tests completed in the past 24 hours789
Total laboratory tests77,296

Source: Public Health Services. Information will be updated each Tuesday and Friday.

As at 6pm, 13 August 2020

Cases in TasmaniaNumber
New cases in past 24 hours0
Total cases228

Last update: 11 Aug 2020 5:07pm

Positive case update

Published 11 August 2020

A patient at the North West Regional Hospital is currently being cared for after testing positive to coronavirus earlier today.

The patient had been transferred to the hospital from Victoria where they had been receiving medical treatment.

As the patient was being managed within the health system and had not been in the community, the risk to the wider community is considered to be low.

The patient was transferred and is being cared for in line with current infection control processes. Measures are in place to minimise the risk to other patients as well as staff at the hospital. This includes ongoing monitoring of all staff who have worked in the area.

No changes are required to any NWRH services. All people visiting or attending the hospital should continue to attend in line with current hospital protocols – which include not visiting if sick and washing hands thoroughly before and after visits.

Independent Review of the Response to the North-West Tasmania COVID-19 Outbreak

Published 10 August 2020

The Tasmanian Government is calling for submissions for the Independent Review into the North-West COVID-19 outbreak.

The Review will cover every aspect of the outbreak in the North West, including the actions and effectiveness of those actions taken in response.

Submissions are open until Friday 14 August 2020.

More information can be found at on the Department of Premier and Cabinet website.

Extension of the Pandemic Isolation Assistance Grants

Published 7 August 2020

The Tasmanian Government has announced the extension of the Pandemic Isolation Assistance Grants.

The grants are being extended from 8 August 2020 to cover casuals and low-income workers who are unable to work while awaiting a COVID-19 test result.

A one-off payment is available to those eligible ($250 per adult, $125 per child, with a maximum of $1,000 per household).

Applications can be made through the Tasmanian Public Health Hotline 1800 671 738.

Border update

Published 3 August 2020

The Tasmanian Government has announced its current border restrictions will now remain in place until at least Monday 31 August 2020.

The Government had foreshadowed changes to restrictions from 7 August 2020, including removal of the need to quarantine when arriving in Tasmania from the low-risk jurisdictions of South Australia, Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Instead, it remains the case that all non-essential travellers arriving in Tasmania are required to enter quarantine for 14 days.

In addition, non-Tasmanian residents (who aren’t classified as Essential Travellers) who have spent time in high-risk areas specified as an 'Affected Region' or 'Affected Premises' in the 14 days prior to arrival in Tasmania are not permitted to travel to Tasmania and will be turned back at their own expense.

Read more on Coming to Tasmania.

Quarantine fee

Updated 3 August 2020

Non-Tasmanian and Tasmanian residents entering mandatory government-designated accommodation are now required to pay a fee of $2,800 per person.

The fee applies to all non-essential travellers arriving in Tasmania who are required to undertake 14 days quarantine in government-designated accommodation.

A reduced rate will be available for couples and families.

Tasmanian residents undertaking quarantine at their private residence are not affected by the change.

Advice on invoicing for quarantine accommodation will be issued during the 14-day quarantine period and on-site Government Liaison Officers will be able to provide further information.

Provision will be provided for people to apply to have the fee waived in limited specific circumstances such as travellers entering the state following essential travel for medical treatment. The criteria and application process for hardship are still being developed and it is not yet possible to apply for hardship consideration prior to arrival.

COVID-19 testing in government-provided quarantine facilities

Published 21 July 2020

Due to the ongoing cases being detected in Victoria and areas of NSW, from Wednesday 22 July everyone in government-provided accommodation will be contacted directly and offered testing at their accommodation on days 5 and 12 of their quarantine period.

Tasmanian residents in home quarantine will continue to be contacted on day 12 of their quarantine period and encouraged to be tested prior to the completion of their quarantine period. All people in quarantine will continue to be reminded of the need to be tested if they display any cold or flu-like symptoms during or after completing their quarantine period.

Read more about COVID-19 testing.

Testing locations for COVID-19

Updated 21 July 2020

Testing sites are available across Tasmania. Some sites do not require bookings and offer drive-up testing.

Tasmanian Government COVID-19 Testing Clinics



Booking required - call Public Health Hotline: 1800 671 738

On premises testing

Best option for high-risk people including:

  • healthcare, aged care and residential care workers or staff with direct patient contact
  • people who travelled outside Tasmania or had close contact with a confirmed case within 14 days of developing symptoms
  • people in quarantine (day 10-12).
8:30am - 3:30pm daily

Devonport, East Devonport Recreation Centre (67 Caroline Street)

Burnie, West Park, 'The Point' (10 Bass Highway)

No booking required

Mobile testing clinics
Details of future mobile testing clinics to be advised.

It is recommended that if you have any of the following symptoms, get tested for COVID-19:

  • fever
  • runny nose
  • cough
  • sore/itchy throat, or
  • shortness of breath.

If you become very unwell or have difficulty breathing, call Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

Read more about Testing for COVID-19.

Declaration of State of Emergency extended

Published 9 July 2020

The Tasmanian Government has today extended the Declaration of a State of Emergency until 31 August 2020.

The Government advised this is necessary to keep the current arrangements in place to continue to manage the risk that COVID-19 poses to Tasmania.

Read the full Direction for more information.

Changes to gatherings under Stage 3

Updated 26 June 2020

From 12pm Friday 26 June, the number of people permitted at businesses/activities (other than households) has increased as Tasmania moves to Stage 3 in its Roadmap to Recovery.

Gathering sizes have increased to a maximum of 500 people in an undivided space outdoors and 250 people for an undivided space in an indoor premises. Maximum density limits have moved from 4sqm per person to 2sqm.

Where the number of people permitted according to the density limit is less than the gathering limit, the lower number applies.

For more information, see Current restrictions.

The Tasmania Project

Updated 18 June 2020

How are you experiencing and adapting to life in the time of COVID-19? What do you need and want now, and for the future? The University of Tasmania has established The Tasmania Project to give you a voice and to gather important information during and beyond the pandemic.

UTAS is seeking Tasmanian residents to participate in surveys and/or interviews. The information gathered will be summarised as a resource for those making critical decisions in response to the pandemic, and will help Tasmanians work together through the pandemic and support recovery for a strong future.

Visit the UTAS website to register your interest to participate in the study.

COVID-19 Safety Plans

Published 15 June 2020

The Government has a plan to ‘Rebuild a Stronger Tasmania’. As part of this plan, all workplaces are required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that complies with the minimum COVID-19 safety standards that are now in place. See COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework for more information.

Last update: 29 May 2020 10:18am

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Last update: 11 Jun 2020 11:53am

The Department of Health is working closely with national health authorities and local health services, including hospitals and GPs, to prepare for more cases and identify and appropriately manage potential cases quickly. We are being guided by the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus, national guidelines that are being reviewed daily, and extensive pandemic planning undertaken over recent years.

Public Health Emergency Declaration

The Director of Public Health has declared a Public Health Emergency for Tasmania to help manage the threat of COVID-19.

This declaration provides the Director with emergency powers to implement public health measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Tasmania.

You can read the Directions made under the Public Health Act 1997 on the Resources page.

State of Emergency Declaration

The Tasmanian Government has declared a State of Emergency for Tasmania in response to COVID-19.

The State Control Centre has been activated, meaning the whole-of-government response to COVID-19 is being led by the State Controller – Commissioner of Police, Darren Hine – in close liaison with the Director of Public Health, Mark Veitch.

You can read the Directions made under the Emergency Management Act 2006 on the Resources page.

Premier's Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council

The Premier’s Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council (PESRAC) has been established to provide advice to the Government on strategies and initiatives to support the short to medium, and the longer term recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

PESRAC will provide advice and recommendations on how to best mitigate the economic and social impacts of the pandemic. It will also identify opportunities for economic and social renewal.

PESRAC is made up of individuals from across the business and community sectors with experience, knowledge and the necessary resourcefulness to advise the Premier on a roadmap for recovery and the social and economic opportunities and initiatives to rebuild a stronger and more resilient Tasmania.

For more information, go to the PESRAC website.

Last update: 04 Aug 2020 9:21am

Need an interpreter?

Phone the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450 and tell them your language. Tell the interpreter your name and that you’re calling the Tasmanian Department of Health 1800 671 738.

Phone your doctor or the Public Health Hotline (1800 671 738) if:

  • you feel unwell with a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, and
  • you have recently travelled outside Tasmania or had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Tell them about your symptoms and recent travel.

The Australian Government COVID-19 translated resources cover health, employment, education and general community information.

The SBS Coronavirus multi-lingual portal has content in 63 languages.

The Migration Council Australia's MyAus COVID-19 app is a free resource for Australia's culturally and linguistically diverse communities about COVID-19, its impact and available support.

Tasmanian Government translated resources

Tasmania's restrictions have eased. What do I need to know? (fact sheet)

OromoSimplified ChineseArabic 

How to get tested for COVID-19 (fact sheet)

OromoSimplified ChineseArabic 

Hospital and aged care visits (fact sheet)

OromoSimplified ChineseArabic 

Australian Government translated resources

Amharic Arabic Burmese Dari
German Greek Hakka Chin Hazaragi
Italian KarenMandarinNepali

Australian Red Cross translated resources

Simple steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for yourself and others (fact sheet)

Amharic Arabic Burmese Dari
NepaliKarenHakka Chin Hazaragi

Migrant Resource Centre (Tasmania) translated resources

Social distancing (fact sheet)

Amharic Arabic BurmeseDari
Haka ChinHazaragiKarenNepali

Social distancing (Audio)

Amharic Arabic Dari Hazaragi

Last update: 03 Jul 2020 4:35pm

General information

About coronavirus and the national response

For the latest information about coronavirus go to the Australian Government Department of Health website.

About the Tasmanian situation

You can follow the Department of Health on Facebook for updates.

About the global situation

The World Health Organisation (WHO) website provides up-to-date advice and facts about the situation globally.

Health information

National Coronavirus Helpline

For general information about coronavirus, or if you are experiencing symptoms, call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 (24 hours, 7 days) for advice on what to do next. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.

healthdirect website and app

Information and advice provided by the National Coronavirus Helpline is also available on the healthdirect website and via the healthdirect mobile app.

Tasmanian Public Health Hotline

The Public Health Hotline ensures Tasmanians have access to coronavirus (COVID-19) support and information.

As well as handling enquiries from the general public, qualified clinical staff are available to provide advice to health professionals.

If you feel unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms (including fever, runny nose, cough, sore/itchy throat or shortness of breath), please phone the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 to arrange a referral for a COVID-19 test.

Stay Healthy Stay Connected

For tips on how to stay healthy and stay connected while you are staying at home, visit and follow the Stay Healthy Stay Connected Facebook page.

Stay informed

Download the Federal Government “Coronavirus Australia” app in the Apple App Store or Google Play, or join the WhatsApp channel on iOS or Android.